Posts Tagged ‘LEV’

Best article I’ve read in a long time and written by a friend of a friend : Fear Laundering 

Fear is the key word for this presidential election.

There is the fear of the Republican candidate Donald Trump as we all know. But I also think there is another fear.

It’s the fear of accepting what this country has become.

Martin Luther King Jr. accurately described the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

As a result, he wasn’t only killed physically, but his legacy as an anti-imperial revolutionary was also put to death. He was systematically demonized before the killing and his determination to confront the imperial war machine was subsumed (in effect whitewashed) by his image as a great civil rights leader.

Many of his contemporaries, probably the most brilliant, insightful and humanistic people to emerge from the US, have been assassinated and imprisoned.

A half century later, the US wields over 1000 military bases across the globe while over half of the federal tax goes for military spending. Currently it engages in eight wars. It also surrounds nuclear armed Russia and China while aggressively provoking both nations economically and militarily. There is no MLK or Malcolm X today, but there is the first black commander in chief who jokes about drone killings.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner is responsible for commanding the eight wars mentioned above. The country of freedom, equality and liberty is number one in mass incarceration, police killings, and mass surveillance. Perhaps this might be the worst time to wake up and realize that what the government has been doing is the complete opposite of what it’s been saying.

According to Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst, such a shift in one’s world view causes fragmentation of the self, which leads to an extreme expression of anger and desperate efforts in protecting and defending the crumbling “reality”.

For some people this momentum of anger and fear seems to merge directly with anger against Donald Trump together with unconditional support for the de facto power of establishment: Hillary Clinton. They can divert the overflowing anger toward Trump while rebuilding their crumbling world by standing with Clinton, dutifully demonizing the good old cold war enemy Russia, erroneously calling the WikiLeaks founder a rapist, affirming American exceptionalism with conviction, and so on.

It is truly surreal to witness people turning into Russia-hating-angry-Americans who believe that American style democracy is exceptional and the nation should be led by a trusted imperialist with a proven record of spreading “democracy” with undemocratic means. However, it might not be a complete mystery after all.

I wonder if this psychological narrative was considered when the Democratic Party strategists conspired to promote Donald Trump as an extreme right wing conservative, as a “piped piper” candidate who would play the evil candidate against the “lesser evil” candidate Hillary Clinton.

Take a look at a Clinton supporter’s wall. You will notice a few emotionally charged angles that are prominent, which are designed to elicit highly emotional responses while covering up Clinton’s patriarchal policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism:

  1. Trump’s misogyny, which, of course, functions to elevate “feminist” Clinton while covering up her patriarchal policies of wars and socioeconomic restructuring for the interests of the Wall Street bankers.
  2. Openly Russophobic remarks coupled with an alleged Trump connection to Russia. The demonization of Russians and portraying the Russian government as an illegitimate entity serve to prepare people for continuing economic and military pressure against Russia. This has been particularly concerning for all of us who have followed the movements of NATO forces encroaching on Russia. It is not Russia exhibiting aggression, but it has been the NATO forces, with 10 times more military spending, provoking nuclear armed Russia. This angle elicits a strong emotional response from people who have been long conditioned with anti-soviet, anti-Communist propaganda long after the fall of the Soviet Union and its communist governance. It also must be noted that it is simply appalling that Clinton has not presented any evidence for her claim that the Russian government has intervened in the presidential election, while the US has been officially engaging in political intervention of Russia through its Russian Democracy Act.
  3. Trump’s disrespectful remarks against US veterans. Highlighting Trump’s remarks about veterans elevates Clintons status as a potential military leader. I have been surprised that people, who I thought would be aware of the violent imperialism of the US hegemony, which has destroyed over 22 million lives across the globe while destroying domestic social programs and social safety nets, are so willing to go along with Clinton’s pro war position. Clinton has been literally in support of all the US colonial wars and continues to provoke Russia and China with aggressive remarks.

The US presidential election is a great tool of imperialism to turn good Americans into fervent nationalists dangerous to all humans on the planet.

I urgently ask readers to consider our predicament being trapped in this scheme devised to perpetuate the rule of the extreme minority with enormous wealth and power.


Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works New York, the United States.



An Eight Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting)

By John Halle and Noam Chomsky, June 15, 2016


1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump; denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point.

Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.”

Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.

5) 4 above, should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.

6) However, the left should also recognize that, should Trump win based on its failure to support Clinton, it will repeatedly face the accusation (based in fact), that it lacks concern for those sure to be most victimized by a Trump administration.

7) Often this charge will emanate from establishment operatives who will use it as a bad faith justification for defeating challenges to corporate hegemony either in the Democratic Party or outside of it.
They will ensure that it will be widely circulated in mainstream media channels with the result that many of those who would otherwise be sympathetic to a left challenge will find it a convincing reason to maintain their ties with the political establishment rather than breaking with it, as they must.

8) Conclusion: by dismissing a “lesser evil” electoral logic and thereby increasing the potential for Clinton’s defeat the left will undermine what should be at the core of what it claims to be attempting to achieve.


Preamble to the above:

Among the elements of the weak form of democracy enshrined in the U.S constitution, presidential elections continue to pose a dilemma for the left in that any form of participation or non participation appears to impose a significant cost on our capacity to develop a serious opposition to the corporate agenda served by establishment politicians.

The position outlined in this list is that which many regard as the most effective response to this quadrennial Hobson’s choice, namely the so-called “lesser evil” voting strategy or LEV.

Simply put, LEV involves, where you can, i.e. in safe states, voting for the losing third party candidate you prefer, or not voting at all. In competitive “swing” states, where you must, one votes for the “lesser evil” Democrat.

Before fielding objections, it will be useful to make certain background stipulations with respect to the points in the list.

The first is to note that since changes in the relevant facts require changes in tactics, proposals having to do with our relationship to the “electoral extravaganza” should be regarded as provisional. This is most relevant with respect to point 3) which some will challenge by citing the claim that Clinton’s foreign policy could pose a more serious menace than that of Trump.

In any case, while conceding as an outside possibility that Trump’s foreign policy is preferable, most of us not already convinced that that is so will need more evidence than can be aired in a discussion involving this statement. Furthermore, insofar as this is the fact of the matter, following the logic through seems to require a vote for Trump, though it’s a bit hard to know whether those making this suggestion are intending it seriously.

Another point of disagreement is not factual but involves the ethical/moral principle addressed in 1), sometimes referred to as the “politics of moral witness.” Generally associated with the religious left, secular leftists implicitly invoke it when they reject LEV on the grounds that “a lesser of two evils is still evil.” Leaving aside the obvious rejoinder that this is exactly the point of lesser evil voting-i.e. to do less evil, what needs to be challenged is the assumption that voting should be seen a form of individual self-expression rather than as an act to be judged on its likely consequences, specifically those outlined in 4).

The basic moral principle at stake is simple:

not only must we take responsibility for our actions, but the consequences of our actions for others are a far more important consideration than feeling good about ourselves.

While some would suggest extending the critique by noting that the politics of moral witness can become indistinguishable from narcissistic self-agrandizement, this is substantially more harsh than what was intended and harsher than what is merited. That said, those reflexively denouncing advocates of LEV on a supposed “moral” basis should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted to be the case.

A third criticism of LEV equates it with a passive acquiescence to the bipartisan status quo under the guise of pragmatism, usually deriving from those who have lost the appetite for radical change. It is surely the case that some of those endorsing LEV are doing so in bad faith-cynical functionaries whose objective is to promote capitulation to a system which they are invested in protecting. Others supporting LEV, however, can hardly be reasonably accused of having made their peace with the establishment.

Their concern, as alluded to in 6) and 7) inheres in the awareness that frivolous and poorly considered electoral decisions impose a cost, their memories extending to the ultra-left faction of the peace movement having minimized the comparative dangers of the Nixon presidency during the 1968 elections. The result was six years of senseless death and destruction in Southeast Asia and also a predictable fracture of the left setting it up for its ultimate collapse during the backlash decades to follow.

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the “reasonable” alternative.

A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.

A more general conclusion to be derived from this recognition is that this sort of cost/benefit strategic accounting is fundamental to any politics which is serious about radical change. Those on the left who ignore it, or dismiss it as irrelevant are engaging in political fantasy and are an obstacle to, rather than ally of, the movement which now seems to be materializing.

Finally, it should be understood that the reigning doctrinal system recognizes the role presidential elections perform in diverting the left from actions which have the potential to be effective in advancing its agenda. These include developing organizations committed to extra-political means, most notably street protest, but also competing for office in potentially winnable races.

The left should devote the minimum of time necessary to exercise the LEV choice then immediately return to pursuing goals which are not timed to the national electoral cycle.

By John Halle.